UiPath is a global software company that specializes in robotic process automation. This January, Uipath announced that it had raised $750 million in a fundraising round that values the start-up at $35 billion, over $20 billion more than last year. Heading up the company is Daniel Dines, a former Microsoft employee who plans to be to the bot industry what Bill Gates is to the PC world. Judging from the fact Dines now ranks as Romania’s richest man, he already seems well on his way to achieving his goal. Find out more about the UiPath CEO as we run through ten things you didn’t know about Daniel Dines.
1. He wanted to be an author
As a child, Dines had plenty of ambition. Strangely enough, being the CEO of a global software company didn’t figure into his plans even slightly. Born to a teacher and a civil engineer who met after they were forcibly relocated to a new chemical factory town by Nicolae Ceausescu’s government, Dines dreamt of one day escaping the Iron Curtain and becoming a world-famous author. The problem was, writing was the least of his talents. By the time he was midway through high school, he’d realized his real gift was for math. Ever the pragmatist, Dines put aside his dream of writing the next great Romanian novel and began concentrating on his sums instead.
2. He skipped classes to play bridge
After discovering his talent for math in high school, Dines went on to study it alongside computer science at university. But he got bored easily and was soon skipping all but the most essential classes in favor of playing competitive bridge. After finishing university, he took advantage of the country’s post-communist inflationary economy to make a small fortune by buying up cheap goods in Bucharest before adding a markup and selling them for a profit at home.
3. He’s self-taught
In the early 1990s, Dines heard rumors of Bucharest coders earning in excess of $300 per month by working on outsourcing projects for US tech firms. In post-soviet Romania, $300 was a fortune. Determined to get in on the action, Dines set about teaching himself everything there was to know about coding. He borrowed a library book on C++ and spent all his time practicing on a friend’s computer. It paid off. After working for several years in the Romanian tech sector, Dines got a job offer from Microsoft. The job offer meant leaving his native Romania for Seattle. Despite having never visited the States before, Dines jumped at the opportunity.
4. He worked for Microsoft for five years
In 2001, Dines landed in Seattle. He spent the next five years working as a programmer for Microsoft, honing and developing his skills to perfection. Not that it was the easiest of times. Due to his limited English, Dines struggled to understand very much about what was going on in the business. “My first years were terrible,” he’s since recalled. “In meetings, I understood 50 percent to 60 percent of what they talked about, and I couldn’t speak anything.” It was only years after leaving Microsoft that he found out that words like folders had a meaning that extended beyond the Windows desktop.
5. He returned to Bucharest in 2005
After almost five years of working in the States, Dines made his return to Bucharest in 2005. On his arrival, he set up a tech outsourcing company named DeskOver. Eventually, he realized there was an untapped market for bots. Determined to tap the market for all it was worth, he turned his focus to virtual robots that ran autonomously without the requirement for new code. By 2014, the company was turning over $500,000 – a princely sum in Romania. Not content to stop there, Dines began to target ever bigger customers. At around the same time, he began concentrating on software-as-a-service subscriptions. After raising $1.6 million in investment from Earlybird, Credo Ventures, and Seedcamp, Dines renamed DeskOver to UiPath and set his sights on world domination.
6. He’s the richest man in Romania
Forbes currently estimates Dines’ net worth to be around $1.3 billion. It’d be a fortune in any country, but in Romania, it’s doubly so. According to Positive News Romania, Dines’ immense personal fortune puts him in contention for the title of the richest man in the entire country.
7. He’s an avid reader
As a kid, Dines dreamt of being an author. In the years since, he’s not lost his appreciation for the written word. It’s just that these days, he contents himself with reading other people’s books rather than aspiring to write his own. During an interview with Forbes, Dines said that he usually spends most of his mornings engrossed in a book. So engrossed does he get, in fact, he rarely makes it to the office before 11 am.
8. He’s a self-professed lazybones
Dines may have chosen the tech industry to make his mark in, but he’s a world away from the stereotype of a Silicon Valley CEO. Whereas the heads of most tech firms pride themselves on being breakfasted, meditated, and exercised before the rest of us have even had our first coffee of the day, Dines prefers to go about things in a different way. After waking up, he’ll spend a few hours in bed reading before having a little nap. At about 11 am, he starts to consider opening his laptop. “I work really hard at the company, but only at things I like,” he’s confessed. “Being a lazy person, I had to build better pattern recognition in life.”
9. He wants a bot in every home
Dines may have left Microsoft in the early 2000s, but he still has a lot of respect for his old boss, Bill Gates. Moreover, he’s determined to replicate Gates’ success by turning bots into a societal game-changer and becoming the face of a new industry. “Bill Gates used to talk at Microsoft about a computer in every home,” he says. “I want a robot for every person.”
10. He splits his time between New York and Romania
Dines’ years in the US clearly left an impression. After leaving Seattle in 2005, he based himself in Bucharest. These days, he divides his time between Bucharest and New York, where he also has offices.